Nancy Parsons is VP, pharmaceutical products of Leadiant Biosciences.

What would you do if you didn’t work in healthcare?

I love the outdoors and enjoy all types of flora. I always said my dream job would involve being the head horticulturist for a fancy resort. I would love to plan and design elaborate flower beds and plantings throughout a large property.

Talk about the last time you experienced a fist-pumping victory moment.

I led the commercial planning and launch of Revcovi, an enzyme replacement therapy for ADA-SCID, approved by the FDA last year. For 30 years, physicians relied on Adagen, another such therapy. When the active ingredient used to produce it was no longer available, we developed Revcovi using recombinant DNA technology. Other companies may not have recognized the commercial value of a therapy for such a small population. With focus and dedication, we created and implemented a viable commercial model for Revcovi.

To me, the ultimate measure of success comes from communicating the value of therapies and facilitating unrestricted access to them.

When was the last time you endured an “agony of defeat” moment? What did you learn from it?

Over the past 18 months, my team and I worked with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to explore novel value-based reimbursement options for rare disease therapies. Unfortunately, we could not come to an agreement regarding reimbursement, which was disheartening. Though it was an “agony of defeat” moment, I continue to work with federal agencies to develop a pricing model that allows all patients to access much-needed therapies.

How long ago was the last time you took the time to recharge your batteries? What did you do?

Even when I am on holiday there are still urgent issues that need to be dealt with. I need to get better at really taking time off.

What do you find frustrating about working in healthcare marketing?

I love working in the healthcare industry and would not trade it for anything in the world, but marketing can be frustrating at times because we’re not able to support the rare disease community as much as we’d like. There are a number of factors, including time and regulations in the pharma industry, that limit what we are able to do. We welcome the opportunity to support the community through education, resources, assistance programs and more. Our number one priority is to develop treatments for patients who need them to survive.

However, I am frustrated by people who do not understand the importance of what we do by bringing valuable therapies for people who need them. Many people think we are only motivated by financial factors and not by helping people. It requires rare dedication to bring therapies to small numbers of patients. As an example, we make a drug for a disease that affects only 50 patients in North America.

To ensure pay parity and career advancement for women, I will…

Continue to mentor women in this industry and fight for equality for myself and for other women. I will also engage with other women to ensure they do not tolerate discrimination and harassment and coach them on how to handle these types of situations in a professional way.

What are your words to live by?

Lead by example. You have to conduct yourself the way would want others to. That means working hard, being honest, being compassionate, caring about others and helping them be the best they can be both personally and professionally.

What is one thing you would tell young women starting their careers in healthcare marketing?

When I started in healthcare I was the first female to be hired to the sales force of a very large pharma company. The entire management team was male and this is still the case in many companies. I am the only female VP at our company. Given this landscape I would want young women to be aware of this reality but with hard work and dedication this can and will change. I would recommend to set your sights high and go for it.

Favorite drink?

Chardonnay.

What three people, alive or dead, would you like to host at a dinner party and why?

  • Amelia Earhart. She wore pants, did something only men were doing, and I would like to know what really happened to her.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. He was so passionate about equality and overcoming discrimination, I would love to get some tips on strategies to promote equality for women from him.
  • Margaret Thatcher. She is one tough nut. I would also like to get some leadership tips from her.